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Testimony at Budget Hearing before House Budget Committee

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Testimony at Budget Hearing before House Budget Committee
Washington, DC
March 15, 2001

And I want to say to you this morning, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Spratt and Members of the Committee, that I will bring that same fighting spirit up before this Committee and all the other committees of Congress as I do what I think is necessary to support the President's budget, which I think begins a process of turning around the dilapidated state, as it has been called, of the State Department.

Let me tell you one thing about the State Department. There may be elements of dilapidation, if I can coin such a word, within the Department, but don't ever use that term to refer to the dedicated men and women within that Department. In the couple of months I have been down there, I have found people who are working their hearts out to do the very best for the American people, to capture the spirit of the American values system, and to take that spirit around the world. And we should be very proud of what they are doing.

And what my challenge is, what our challenge is today, is to make sure that they have the wherewithal, they have the resources, so that they're not working in dilapidated embassies; they're not working with dilapidated, old communications and technology systems; that if we think it's important for our fighting men in the Pentagon to go into battle with the best weapons and equipment and tools we can give them, then we owe the same thing to the wonderful men and women of the Foreign Service, the Civil Service, and the Foreign Service Nationals who are also in the front line of combat, as you alluded to, Mr. Nussle, in this new world.

I am pleased to be the Secretary of State and I am pleased to be here this morning to defend the President's budget. The President had a number of tough choices to make in putting this budget together, and I was very pleased that he saw fit to give the Department of State and the 150 Function a 5 percent increase which, when you break it down, as you will see shortly, when you break it down into the actual operating accounts of the Department of State -- the money we use to buy new technology, to buy new information systems, to invest in secure facilities and embassies, to hire people -- represents a much more significant increase, something like 14 percent over the past year.

So while I too am concerned about not being at historical levels, I think we are starting to turn that around. And as you note, Mr. Spratt, the out years are not adequate. But out years are out years, and you can be sure that I will be doing everything I can in the course of the remainder of this year, as we get ready for 2003, to make sure that I present to the Administration, to the President, the best arguments that I can come up with as to why these increases should continue.

You know, the government, the United States, the American people, have so many ways in which they interact with the world -- the President in holding meetings with world leaders; the travels that he takes; the travels that I take, such as the trip I made to the Middle East a few weeks ago -- all of this for the purpose of representing our interests, all for the purpose of working with friends and allies, all for the purpose of dealing with former enemies who perhaps now are on the way to becoming friends.

But what I do and what the President does and what other cabinet officials do in this regard is nothing compared to what is done every single day by those wonderful men and women that I am privileged to be the leader of. And that is why it's so important we keep in mind that people across the world, doing this work for us, are watching us, watching to see whether or not we will give them what they need.

I am pleased that the President saw fit to give us this increase. I want to just touch on some of the significant items in the increased request that we have before you, and I think the details are adequately covered in my prepared statement. In the interest of time, and knowing that you have some other distinguished witnesses following me, I'll just touch on the highlights and then get right into the questions and answers. Because we have such a good turnout, I want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity, Mr. Chairman, to ask questions.

As you know, the account is broken into really two parts, the foreign operations appropriation and then the Commerce, State and Justice. As Mr. Spratt has noted, the Andean regional initiative, which follows on from Plan Colombia, is the largest single account, and it is part of a larger account called International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, where we give additional money to the effort to cut off the supply of drugs that are coming into this nation.

And, rather than just focus on Plan Colombia, as we have for the last couple of years, we’re calling this now the Andean Regional Initiative, because we just don’t want to move the problem to other countries in the Andean region. And we understand that it is not just a matter of helicopters. We have to provide alternative sources of income, alternative crops, democracy, nation building, preparation of military and police forces to handle the kind of challenges they face in the Andean region.

Another major item in the foreign operations appropriation is military assistance to help Israel and our European Partnership for Peace countries, the Philippines and Latin America take care of some of their military assistance funding needs. Multi-development banks have been fully funded in 2002, schedule payments to the multilateral development banks, child survival and diseases, especially with respect to HIV and AIDS, one of the great catastrophes on the world stage right now, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Congress has been very generous in recent years. This budget thanks the Congress for that generosity and asks for a 10 percent increase in that kind of funding for HIV/AIDS and similar infectious diseases, which are such a problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, in other parts of the world, and here in our own hemisphere, increasingly in the Caribbean.

International disaster assistance goes up. We want to increase operating expenses for USAID so they can do a better job in delivering this aid to nations around the world. We have our allocations for peacekeeping, development assistance, increase to meet the requirements of the Korean Energy Development Organization, heavy fuel oil as part of the agreed framework with North Korea from 1994, increases in migration and refugee assistance, and increases in the Peace Corps, which is celebrating its fortieth year of dedicated service, not only for the nation but to the world.

The major increases in the other part of our account, Commerce-State-Justice appropriation, first and foremost, I would like to highlight what we call diplomatic readiness, the human resources that are necessary for us to do our job. We are hiring 597 new Americans into the State Department, 360 of whom will deal with the highest priority staffing needs. We have a shortage in our foreign service ranks. We have to begin filling that shortage.

And in addition just to filling shortages, we want to create a float, so that we have some flexibility so people can go away to school without leaving a job, so there are enough people around to handle the crises and emergencies that come along from time to time, without always having to rob Peter to pay Paul and vice-versa. We are also going to hire 186 additional security professionals as part of our commitment to making sure that we are not only protecting all of our facilities against terrorist attacks, but also intelligence penetrations.

The biggest single item I would like to focus on in terms of money is information technology. We know that we have got to do a better job of getting the power of the information revolution down onto the desk of every single State Department employee anywhere in the world, so that they have access to the Internet, so that they can have access to each other, and so that we can start linking this all together and just increase the leverage, the power, that the Secretary of State has and all of my colleagues have in the building, to reach out and work through our embassies, work through our ambassadors in an increasingly empowered way.

The world is so complex with so many additional countries that need to be dealt with and tended to since the end of the Cold War, that we've got to use information technology not to centralize power and authority but to decentralize power and authority. And you do that by having information technology systems that allow you to do so. So we are increasing our investment in both classified and unclassified information technology systems.

There has been a great deal of interest in security for our people overseas, and you will see $1.3 billion in the overall blueprint for new secure embassies, increasing perimeter security to posts around the world, security readiness including guards, including the kind of equipment you need, X-ray equipment and other surveillance devices, to make sure that when we send our people out on these front lines, we give them all the protection that is possible without at the same time denying them access to the people that we are sending them out to represent us to.

And also, finally, overseas infrastructure, $60 million to address critical infrastructure problems to include replacing obsolete equipment, aging motor vehicles and all the other mundane things that are required to make sure that we are doing our job correctly.

Mr. Chairman, I believe that this budget is a responsible budget in light of all of the other priorities that the President had to consider as he was putting the budget together. It is my first shot at what I think the Department will need in the years ahead. And I am very pleased that the President has understood that the need we have is real and great and he has confidence in our ability to use this money wisely. And I hope I can convince the members of Congress of that same commitment that I make to use this money wisely.

This is a time of great opportunity in the world. It is also a time of challenge, a time of risk and danger. And we will deal with those risks and those dangers. But we must never lose sight of the fact that it really is a time of opportunity where our value system is ascended, where Communism is gone as a functioning ideology, where Fascism and Nazism have been left behind in the dustbin of history, where it is democracy and the free enterprise system that represents the model that works.

It is the model that we stand behind. It is the model that we present to the rest of the world. We present it with humility. We present it as something they should look at and see that it is the road to wealth and success for their peoples. And in order to carry that message, it is going to be the State Department, as much as the military or any other part of the national government, that will carry that message effectively. And in order to do it, we have to support our people with all they need to get the job done, to take advantage of the opportunities, to minimize the risks and the dangers that are out there, and to serve as that insurance policy you referred to earlier, Mr. Chairman.

With that, I'll stop and I’m more than pleased to take your questions, sir.

[Full Text provided committee members]

Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is a great pleasure to appear for the first time as Secretary of State before this Committee. And I am honored that I apparently am one of the first Secretaries of State to ever appear before this Committee. But I can assure you it is not an unfamiliar scene to me, having appeared here as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And I couldn't help but note, as I look to my right and left, I see my old friends Bill Gray and Leon Panetta, with whom I had such interesting debates as we fought for the necessary increases for the defense budget over the years that I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Released on March 15, 2001

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